Age an issue in Kane County Board District 8 race

Kane County Board District 8 residents will have a new representative Nov. 9 no matter who wins.

Republican Linda Pasetti-Olson of Montgomery or Democrat Barbara Hernandez will fill a spot occupied by Maria Vazquez, who did not seek re-election. She served the remaining term of her late husband, Jesse.

Neither candidate has held elected political office, other than precinct committeeman.

Pasetti-Olson, 69, has made "life experience" a campaign issue. Hernandez, of Aurora, is 24.

"I have the life experience to make the best decisions about how your tax dollars are being spent. This position will be my focus, and it won't be competing with a social life, or a different career," Pasetti-Olson wrote in a letter she posted on her campaign's Facebook page.

When she tells voters Hernandez's age, they say, "She is way too young to be doing a job like this," Pasetti-Olson said in an interview.

Hernandez embraces her relative youth.

"To my advantage would be that I am young," she said, and that she has "fresh ideas" and the time and energy to interact with constituents. Hernandez cited the number of organizations and community events with which she has been involved. "What was she doing when she was 23?"

Buying a house, paying taxes, raising children and working, Pasetti-Olson replied.

Hernandez said she lives with her parents and does not pay rent but contributes money to household expenses. She works for state Rep. Linda Chapa La Via, and for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

She cited several reasons, including paying college loans and not being ready to purchase property, for her decision.

"I honestly think it is a cultural thing as well," Hernandez said. "As Latinos, we tend to stay with family."

"I don't feel like I'm too old" to serve effectively on the board, Pasetti-Olson said. She said she has been walking door-to-door to meet voters.

Pasetti-Olson supports county board Chairman Chris Lauzen, including his effort to keep the county's property tax levy frozen.

Hernandez thinks the county should increase the levy, at least enough to account for growth due to new properties.

Hernandez said she would support requests from the sheriff's and state's attorney's office for more staffing and other resources. But where would money come from? She said the county should pursue getting more money from the state and federal government.

"I feel like several state representatives have been able to bring back (money) for their regular (legislative) district, but they haven't (specifically) looked into Kane County," Hernandez said. She said she has developed connections in state and local government, working on constituent services for Chapa La Via, that would be useful.

Pasetti-Olson does not support increasing staffing and said Kane County should study neighboring DuPage County for ways to reduce it.

Pasetti-Olson cited traffic congestion in the district as one issue she is concerned about, specifically the intersection of Orchard Road and Route 30, and along Montgomery Road.

She knows Aurora, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Kane County have long-term solutions in mind, but she wants quicker short-term fixes, such as installing more signals on Montgomery.

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